Flick of the wrists and a grip on your hips.
Flick of the wrist and a grip on your hips.

Three days ago I purchased Audiosurf after a mere 20 minute demo of the game. It’s kind of F-Zero meets Wipeout meets Tetris while being completely soundtracked by you. The premise of the game is to use the waveform of any music file on your hard drive to create a virtual racetrack that’s used as a basis for a fast-paced puzzle problem. This sounds like a Winamp visualization plugin gone wrong, but’s actually pretty fantastic. There are multiple modes available, one of which includes collecting blocks of multiple colours to attempt configuring a contiguous sequence. My personal preference is “Ninja Mono” where you attempt to collect one type of coloured blocks (the colour transitions based on the music’s tempo) while avoiding gray barrier blocks. It’s very fucking challenging on elite.

It’s the type of game you can jump right into without any instructions really. I made the mistake of using the keyboard for my first 15 or so songs but once I tried the mouse for movement, I quickly realized the err of my ways. The game is mostly single player, with a mode for two people to play on the same PC, but there is no online networking yet. 🙁

Since there are fairly low system requirements (1.6 GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 32MB video card, DirectX 9), trying out the five song Audiosurf demo is a no-brainer. It doesn’t quite have the party game appeal of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but it’s available on Steam for only ten bucks, price including the attached Orange Box soundtrack.

I’ve tried a variety of music genres with the start/stop dynamic tracks having the best fit. Math rock (Candiria, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Minus the Bear, Q and Not U, The Dismemberment Plan), EBM/trance (Front Line Assembly, VNV Nation, Infected Mushroom), post-metal (Pelican, Russian Circles), and industrial rock/drum’n’bass fusion (Pitchshifter, Cubanate, Pop Will Eat Itself) all worked pretty well for the game’s fun factor. Check out that steadily increasing outro of PWEI’s “Karmadrome”! Just don’t try it with Venetian Snares unless you want to suffer from technology-induced epileptic seizures.

So in the future, musicians can use the following metric to decide on the quality of their music – is my song fun in Audiosurf?